Scientists have unlocked the vitamin D potential of tomatoes, study says
Fish and dairy products are the best dietary sources of vitamin D, which can make it a struggle for those on a plant-based diet to get enough of the essential micronutrient. Vitamin D helps protect our bones and keep muscles and teeth healthy.
Now, a team of researchers have come up with a potential new and vegan source of vitamin D: tomatoes gene edited using CRISPR-Cas9 technology to contain a precursor to vitamin D.
If the process is adopted commercially by farmers and producers, these tomatoes could help address vitamin D insufficiency, which the study said affects 1 billion people globally.
“This exciting discovery not only improves human health but contributes to the environmental benefits associated with more plant-based diets — often linked with a challenge in securing some key vitamins and minerals widely found and bioavailable in animal products,” Guy Poppy, a professor of ecology at the University of Southampton, told the Science Media Centre in London. He wasn’t involved in the research.
Vitamin D supplements are widely available in many countries, but coauthor Cathie Martin, a professor at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, England, said that eating a tomato was “so much better than taking a pill.”
“I think that having a dietary source (of vitamin D) in the form of a plant also means that you can get added benefit from eating tomatoes. We don’t eat enough fruit and veg anyway. A tomato is a good source of vitamin C as well,” she said at a news briefing.
The study published Monday in the scientific journal Nature Plants.